Tag Archives: Sydney Ferries

Homeward Bound: Palm Beach to Ettalong.

No doubt, all weekends away end up feeling like Cinderella’s horrific crash landing after the ball. You’re back in rags, your coach is a pumpkin and both you and Prince Charming are so quite what you used to be.

My weekend in Palm Beach was no different and once I’d polished off that divine chocolate cake and all that luscious chocolate sauce, I was on borrowed time and the clock was really ticking.

Tick-tock..tick-tock…tick! TICK! BZZ!!!!!! Game Over!!!!!

space_invaders_wallpaper_game_over_by_shadowbott-d5rxcn6

However, as the rain and wind whipped around, a lingering doubt emerged. Could the ferry service actually be cancelled?

If so, how on earth was I going to get home?

No ferry would stretch the 30 minute journey home into an extremely long, arduous, meandering journey involving 2 buses, 2 trains and not only a packed lunch but also dinner and possibly even a midnight snack.

This was obviously a serious concern!!

However, as if I would travel all that way when I could just stay another night and wait until the storm cleared! Yeah, right!! I could just imagine how well that would go down! There I was living it up in Palm Beach while Geoff had been at work and taxiing the kids around and then he’d be having to take time off work as well to get them to school. Yes, I’d be extremely popular!!

Indeed, it could even be grounds for divorce!

We’ve been on some pretty ragged rides on the ferry before, crossing the high seas where the waves loomed like skyscrapers overhead and our beloved ferry felt more like Scuffy the Tugboat, seemingly tossed like a salad in the ferocious  surf.  Of course, the kids who have a real penchant for melodrama, were freaking out about sinking, drowning and, of course,  even dying while the ferry plowed on through the drenching rain and heavy winds. Ghostly white and sitting on our laps wrapped up in our arms, the kids are vowing never to catch the ferry again. That was a few years ago now before they became intrepid sea scouts!

The ferry service was cancelled for the rest of the day after that.

I was concerned about the ferry being cancelled on Sunday too.  Sure, I know we’re not crossing notorious Bass Strait of Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race fame but the weather still gets wild enough. Wild enough to cancel the ferry. That’s right. There comes a point when even the most intrepid Palm Beach Ferry Captains hang up their hats and stay on terra firma.

However, I’m in luck. The ferry is running and although the weather is a little rough and wet, it remains quite civilised.

Sunset Palm Beach Wharf...so pleased that bird dropped into the shot!

Sunset Palm Beach Wharf…so pleased that bird dropped into the shot!

A friend from Church drops me off at the wharf with 15 minutes to spare where I can enjoy watching some people fishing while the sun sets. I am reminded of Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. However, the keen fisherperson is a woman and she knows her stuff. With the precision of a plastic surgeon, she wraps up a cooked prawn in some plastic netting salvaged from a bag of fruit and pushes the hook through. That prawn won’t come off without a fight, so the fish will have to work a bit harder tonight if they want a free feed!!

At 6.15pm, this is the last ferry and in contrast to yesterday’s rowdy party atmosphere, the ferry is almost empty. There’s just a few weekend stragglers on board and pure silence. You could even meditate it was that quiet. Talk about a contrast!! We all sit inside…even me who is all but always out there on deck pushing the limits with my camera. Too wet, too windy and way too bumpy tonight. Time to take it all in through the rain-stained window.

The View through the Window- Palm Beach Ferry.

The View through the Window- Palm Beach Ferry.

As the ferry started approached Ettalong Wharf, I was looking out for Geoff and the kids and really looking forward to their enthusiastic greetings: “Mummy! Mummy!” and finding out how their scout camps went. These are the sort of exciting moments you live for as a parent: warm, gutsy hugs, smiles, laughter and a thousand stories all spilling out at once. That’s the thing about going away. As much as you protest against the homeward journey, we all know: “There’s no place like home!!”

The Palm Beach Ferry returns to near deserted wharf at Ettalong as the weekend draws to a close.

The Palm Beach Ferry returns to near deserted wharf at Ettalong as the weekend draws to a close.

However, when the ferry pulled into the wharf, there was no one there. The wharf was empty, deserted and not even a sign of our car anywhere. No enthusiastic waves. No hugs. No Mummy!!! Just the sun setting over a deserted beach and the sounds of the wind and the surf.

I knew I was being a bit ridiculous, especially after it was me who actually went away for the weekend. However, there was this residual small voice which I’d thought had disappeared long ago:

“Nobody loves me!”

It’s not that I’m looking for sympathy or even a chorus of: “where were they? Why weren’t they there to pick you up? How dare they!” I mean…it’s not like I cried or anything. However, after building up the big greeting all the way home and really looking forward to seeing the rest of the family, I did feel a bit sad, forgotten and (drum roll)  ABANDONED!!

Serves me right for going away for the weekend without them. This was karma and a taste of what it’s really like to be alone.

As it turned out, the family wasn’t far away and had got held up at scouts. Geoff and the kids had been unloading boats, kayaks and all sorts of paraphenalia from their weekend competing at the Sirius Cup at Sydney’s Balmoral Beach. That’s all. Nothing sinister!

Mister poking out his tongue while scouting at the Sirius Cup, Balmoral Beach.

Mister poking out his tongue while scouting at the Sirius Cup, Balmoral Beach.

Mister had had great fun and made it into the finals for the C2 at the Sirius Cup, which means a 2 person canoe. We were so proud..particularly as he’d overcome his fear of sharks and other nasties and gone for it!! Miss had done really well at her Cub leadership course too. However, there are unfortunately no photos.

A reflective moment during scout camp.

A reflective moment during scout camp.

It’s been a fabulous weekend. Absolutely fabulous!!

Geoff even managed to watch the Grand Prix! Unfortunately, it wasn’t Australian race champion, Daniel Riccardo’s day.

Boo who! Tomorrow…it’s back to yet another manic Monday morning. I’m going to need a pretty strong coffee to get me going. It’s going to be like raising the Titanic.

The Monday morning salvage routine is going to be tough!!

The Monday morning salvage routine is going to be tough!!

xx Rowena (and a few extra kilos after that chocolate cake!!)

 

Sydney Harbour with Me & My Boy

Rewinding just a little to the Sunday before last, which was better known as Sunday 9th November, 2014…

While my husband was battling with computers, cables and unpronounceables at work from the very wee hours and our daughter was singing her lungs out rehearsing for her grand appearance at the Sydney Town Hall (see previous post), the boy and I took off to Circular Quay and decided to explore Sydney Harbour by ferry.

They worked hard. We played hard.

The view back towards Circular Quay as the ferry pulled out. You can see the train station in the foreground.

The view back towards Circular Quay as the ferry pulled out. You can see the train station in the foreground.

We had a special Family Fun Day Ticket which allows unlimited trains,ferries and buses anywhere in the Greater Sydney Region for the ridiculously low price of $2.50 each. I really like to push these tickets to the limit and jam as much action as I can into one day. Feels like payback for the ridiculous prices you pay on public transport the rest of the week.

Ideally, we both wanted to head to Manly which is still Sydney’s ultimate ferry destination. However, we had to be back at Town Hall by 4.30PM and I didn’t want to take any chances. Of course, I hadn’t done my homework and had no idea how long a return ferry trip to Manly would take or how often the ferries went or the details of the ferry timetable.

This meant that we needed to stay within Sydney Harbour.

From: Circular Quay, Sydney NSW To: Darling Harbour, Sydney NSW 2000

 

For our first ferry trip, we decided to catch the ferry to Balmain. We boarded the Scarborough,  a catamaran style ferry which was built in 1986. I guess 1986 isn’t quite what it used to be because the ferry had that nostalgic, aged feel about it, especially when it creaked and groaned on departure. I also had to wonder whether the wharfie was a bit under the weather. Took him a few goes at times to get the rope around the bollard. It was after all a Sunday.

The Scarborough was quite a suitable name for a boat when you’re going on an adventure. The ferry was named after one of the ships in the First Fleet. On 13 of May 1787, the First Fleet set sail from Portsmouth, England. Led by Captain Arthur Phillip, this historic convoy  carried the first European settlers to the new penal colony of New South Wales.  Read more here: http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/discover_collections/history_nation/terra_australis/firstfleet.html

Mister sitting very still behaving himself.

Mister sitting very still behaving himself.

Mister was exceptionally well-behaved on our trip. He must have got wind of what happens when you run a muck on the Scarborough. When convicts Philip Farrell and Thomas Griffiths aboard the original Scarborough were suspected of an attempted take-over of the vessel, they were transferred to Sirius where they received 24 lashes, before being transferred to Prince of Wales.  http://firstfleetfellowship.org.au/ships/hms-scarborough/

Of course, Mister sat very still.

Although I cut the nose off the cruise ship in this shot,  you can see the Bridge in the background and get an idea of where we went.

Although I cut the nose off the cruise ship in this shot, you can see the Bridge in the background and get an idea of where we went.

Leaving port, we were awe struck by the huge cruise ship, which was docked at Circular Quay. These huge cruise ships seem to be part of the furniture these days but they still look humungously huge like they’ve been taking growth hormones of some sort. They’re just absolutely massive. I’ve never been on a cruise and I’m sure they have their appeal and I really would like to go someday but not on one of these massive cages. They remind me of those awful ships which transport live sheep to their deaths. I really don’t fancy being stuck on board any kind of boat with so many people. As impressive and glamorous as they might appear on first impressions, I’d much rather find a deserted island somewhere in the South Pacific and veg out for a bit.

A different perspective...going under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

A different perspective…going under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

After leaving port, the ferry rounded Millers Point heading west underneath the magnificent Sydney Harbour Bridge. This was when I truly started taking more photos than even the most snap-happy tourist. I might be Sydney born and bred but the Sydney Harbour Bridge has never lost its “wow”!!. I just love what we lovingly refer to as “the old coathanger”. Opened in 1932, the Bridge needs no introduction and it remains breathtaking beautiful. An architectural icon which screams out: “Sydney”! The Bridge also has a special place in my heart because I used to see the Bridge while I was having my blood transfusions at Royal North Shore Hospital, right at the very top at level 12. I used to focus on the flags flying at the very top while they were getting the cannula in. That could really hurt. For more info on The Bridge:http://www.sydneyharbourbridge.info/

A Crane-eye's view of Sydney. Bangaroo.

A Crane-eye’s view of Sydney. Bangaroo.

 

This provided us with very much what I’d describe as the backend view of Sydney Harbour and there was an entire jungle of cranes  frantically building at Barangaroo.

 

Mister in front of the Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour. You can see a Tall Ship in the background.

Mister in front of the Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour. You can see a Tall Ship in the background.

As we approached Balmain, I couldn’t really see anything which was readily accessible and so we decided to stay on board and headed around to Darling Harbour and viewed the magnificent Tall Ships moored at the Maritime Museum.

Then we stopped over at Luna Park where it’s huge enough smile flashes rows of pearly white which look like they need urgent dental treatment. Luna Park is not only famous for its smile but also its Ferris wheel and other assorted rides. Even though I’m well and truly too big for it, I still love the carousel and rising on a horse. To read about our trip to Luna Park in 2012 click here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/walking-to-luna-park/

 

The Luna Park Face viewed from the ferry.

The Luna Park Face viewed from the ferry.

It is hard to believe just how many fabulous sights you can take in on a 30 minute ferry ride…especially for the grand total of $2.50 each and the day wasn’t over yet.

 

As we returned to Circular Quay, the ferry gained speed and for a creaky 30 something year old creaky wooden structure, the Scarborough made good speed and white water was churning out the back of the ferry. Perhaps, we could’ve tried a bit of water skiing…!

 

Leaving Balmain Wharf with more than a splash.

Leaving Balmain Wharf with more than a splash.

 

It turned out that the  Scarborough was taking a different route across to Neutral Bay, so we decided to stay on board.

This trip took us East away from the Bridge and out past the Sydney Opera House. Talk about amazing! Like the Bridge, the Sydney Opera House needs no introduction and it’s iconic white sails are well and truly Sydney.

Sydney Opera House viewed through the front of the ferry returning from Neutral Bay.

Sydney Opera House viewed through the front of the ferry returning from Neutral Bay.

This ferry trip also took us past Kirribilli House, the Prime Minster’s Sydney residence  and Admiralty House, the Australian Governor-General’s Sydney Residence. I visited these grand, historic buildings at an open day a few years ago and had hysterics watching children roll down the steep green hills towards the Harbour. I couldn’t help wondering if the Prime Minster ever tried rolling down the hill to clear their head when they had a particularly difficult situation to sort out. I’d really love to roll down the hill there myself and intend to head back for a return visit with the kids in tow. That way when someone sees a middle-aged woman rolling down the hill like a 5 year old, they’ll be praising my parenting skills instead of declaring me a lunatic and locking me up.

Admiralty House,Kirribilli.

Admiralty House,Kirribilli.

After our second ferry ride, we headed back to shore and indulged in what seems to be a mandatory ice cream cone at Circular Quay. Although these lusciously creamy ice creams are simply irresistible, they inevitably drip like crazy all over me and it was just as well Mister was wearing dark pants which camouflaged the drips.

Floating lanterns at the Thai Festival, Circular Quay.

Floating lanterns at the Thai Festival, Circular Quay.

Next, we briefly explored a Thai cultural festival outside the Museum of Contemporary Art.

By now, however, it was time to draw our adventure to an end and catch the train to Town Hall to meet up with Geoff and Miss.

We arrived at Town Hall 30 mins early so I decided to take Mister to his favourite toy shop which is in the Queen Victoria Building. They have a model train set up in the window, which has been a fabulous babysitter in the past while Mum and I have enjoyed a coffee at the cafe next door.They also have an excellent collection of model train things for sale.

No sooner had we walked in the door and Geoff had been sprung. Like father, like son, they both adore model trains…or any train for that matter. Geoff had also arrived early and was filling in time or should I say, he was probably planning to buy out the shop before we ran into him. It was hardly a coincidence!

And look who we also ran into…

Mister and the old big red fella

Mister and the old big red fella

Mr Claus…also running a little early, don’t you think?!!